Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Talks...


For your reading enjoyment, below are copies of the talks that Natalie and I gave on Sunday. 

Marriage

 

 

            I remember as a little girl planning and dreaming about my wedding day.  I dreamt about the beautiful princess dress I would be married in.  I actually drew several renditions of this dress and even put them in my little girl journal to save and to remind my grown up self about the grand plans I had. [I am happy to say I did not wear any of those over the top, indulgent dresses for my actual wedding.]  Of course I dreamt of my prince charming sweeping me off my feet and carrying me away to the Temple.  Growing up my ideal wedding dress changed quite often, as did my ideal prince charming.  But thanks to wonderful parents who instilled in me the importance of temple marriage I always knew exactly where I would be married for time and all eternity, the Temple.  I remember my parents saying to marry the right person, at the right time, in the right place.

         

          Now it just so happened as I was preparing my mission papers, and was currently enrolled in a Mission Prep class at BYU-Idaho, enter prince charming, aka the “right person” Brian Evans.  My first impression of Brian was as my journal puts it, “a righteous stud I can actually see myself marrying…scary! :O  with a little scared, shocked face drawn next to it.  About the time we decided we wanted to date one another we also decided we should begin to pray about getting married.  Now, eternity is a long time, so of course I went back and forth between Brian and a mission and obviously Brian won out. 

          In the end Brian proposed, I said yes, we were engaged 4 months then married in the Oakland Temple.  Interestingly enough my seven year old self had planned my wedding day thinking my prince and I would simply ride off on his noble steed in the beautiful sunset and marital bliss.  Not the case.  My fairytale books had neglected to tell me that after the wedding is when the real work of marriage begins.

          But once again I was lucky enough to have two wonderful parents who were awesome teachers and examples to me of what a loving eternal marriage should be.

Now actually implanting their teachings into my own life and marriage is a whole other kettle of fish and yeah, it’s hard.

 

          When Brian informed me that we were asked to speak on marriage I had to laugh. I will not try to pretend that I am an expert on marriage, far from it, but as I have studied this week about marriage and reflected upon my own marriage, I have found a few very important do’s and don’ts that I would like to share with you today.

 

 

Don’t number one:

-Don’t put other people before your spouse

 

The Lord has commanded us to cleave unto our spouses and none else.

In Doctrine and Covenants 42:22 it reads, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and cleave unto her and none else.”

 

President Spence W. Kimball taught: “The words none else eliminate everyone and everything.  The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse.”

 

          As Brian and I knelt across the alter in the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity, the sealer, who happened to be my Grandpa, gave us some wonderful counsel.  He looked at me and said, “Now up to this point you have dated around and have done your fair share of flirting. But once you leave here today and for the rest of eternity all of your flirting will be with Brian.”  He then turned to Brian and said, “and as for you young man, all your flirting will now be with Natalie, or I’m sure I’ll here about it.”

 

Husbands or wives who place children, friends, careers or hobbies before the marital relationship are violating the command: “none else”

 So Guys, don’t put golf or UFC fight night, before your wife.  Ladies, don’t put scrapbooking or shopping before your husbands.

 

President Kimball went on to say, “This [cleaving unto a wife] means just as completely that ‘thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else.’ Frequently, people continue to cleave unto their mothers and their fathers and their chums… All intimacies should be kept in great secrecy and privacy from others… To cleave does not mean merely to occupy the same home; it means to adhere closely, to stick together”

 

Don’t number two:

Don’t put things before your spouse.

 

A great gift we can give to one another as spouses is to be content and appreciative of the life that you have together.   

 

Elder Joe J. Christensen counseled:

Quote “Some of the most difficult challenges in marriage arise in the area of finances.  ‘The American Bar Association… indicated that 89 percent of all divorces could be traced to quarrels and accusations over money’.  Be willing to postpone or forgo some purchases in order to stay within your budget.  Pay your tithing first and ovoid debt insofar as possible.  The time may have come to get out the scissors, your credit cards, and what Elder Holland called some ‘plastic surgery’.”end quote

 

 

 

Don’t number three:

Don’t speak ill of your spouse.

 

Your spouses name and reputation are sacred things.  Treat your spouse with respect and protect their privacy.

 

          Growing up with 5 other sisters, there was bound to be drama and of course some gossip sessions.  One of our favorite places to talk “smack” was at the dinner table.  I remember anytime one of us girls would bring up an individual to place on the gossip chopping block my mom would always say “Girls, their name is safe in our home.”  My poor mom would repeat this phrase at almost every meal, but it stuck.  Whenever I’m inclined to speak ill of someone, I hear my mother’s words, “their name is safe in our home.” 

          We should be able to say to our spouse “your name is safe in our marriage”.  Now it seems that when women get together there is always a fair amount of “ragging on the husband”.  I’m sure I have been guilty of this myself, but I know that if I found out Brian went to fight night and spent the evening ragging on me as a wife I would probably cry myself to sleep.  I believe that keeping quiet about each others shortcomings, allows us the privacy, space and time we need to change and improve.

 

Moving on to some Do’s

 

Do number one:

Do value your spouse-don’t covet another

Be mentally and emotionally faithful to your spouse.

President  Hinckley said, “When you are married be fiercely loyal to one another.”

 

I have been reading a great book entitled “Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option”  written by Sister Merrilee Boyack, a popular BYU Education Week speaker.  She makes some great points and says,

(quote) “Wives can covet others by either wistfully thinking of prior flames or by comparing their spouses to other men and constantly finding them wanting.  Both are disloyal.  Both are dangerous, and both make for a lousy wife.  Think about it for a minute.  How would you feel if (your husband) sat there at the beach and looked at the women in bikinis?  You’d feel terrible!  He wouldn’t say a word and you would still feel terrible.  And you would be ready to do great bodily harm to him.  It is no different for a wife.  When a wife does not fully value her hubby but instead covets others’ behavior, attributes, and so forth, he knows it.  It is emotional betrayal”(end quote) 

         

          Now it’s not easy to always value your spouse especially when you are mad at them.  I have found that it’s important to focus on the good.  I started a journal that is dedicated to writing down good things about my husband.  I try to write in it about once a week and just list as many good things about Brian as I can.  I’ve found that if he does something that ticks me off, I can read this journal and it reminds me why I married the guy in the first place.

 

Do number two:

Value Yourself

I find it is very easy to beat myself up over the smallest of things and do it on a regular basis.  Brian has been doing P90X, a daily work out program, so Tony Horton the P90X trainer feels like another member of the family.  Sometimes I do some of the work outs with Brian and Tony always says, “Do your best and forget the rest”  I have found these words to be somewhat comforting.  Sometimes as women we tend to be overly critical of ourselves.

  President Hinckley counseled:

Quote “Well, you dear women, I say thanks to you.  Thank you for being the kind of people you are and doing the things you do.  May the blessing of heaven rest upon on you… Many of you think you are failures.  You feel you cannot do well, that with all your effort it is not sufficient.  We all feel that way.  I feel that way as I speak to you tonight. I long for, I pray for the power and capacity to lift you, to inspire you, to praise you, and to bring a measure of gladness into your hearts.  We all worry about our performance.  We all wish we could do better.  But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do…

Now, my dear sisters, that is the way with you.  You are doing the best you can.  Do not nag yourself with a sense of failure.  Get on your knees and ask for blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do.  Then leave the matter in the hands of the Lord.  You will discover that you have accomplished something beyond price.” End quote

 

Another aspect of valuing yourself is being a true person.  Enjoy being yourself.  I don’t necessarily enjoy being myself all the time and find this is usually the case when I haven’t been taking the time to make myself a better person.  So if I don’t enjoy being me, why in the world would Brian enjoy being around me.  We should be constantly growing and evolving as individuals.  Getting married shouldn’t take away from who you are.  It adds to what you are, but it is not the soul identifying characteristic of who you are. 

 I’d like to quote Sister Boyack again when she said,

          Quote “In your marriage you must choose to be a partner in the marriage relationship- not a limited partner, not the general partner, but full and active equal partner.  Let’s do a little math experiment to see how this works.

          What is one times one?  That’s right. It’s one.  One full partner with one full partner equals true oneness in the marriage. Now, what is one times zero? Yup.  It equals zero.  So what does this mean?  It means if you treat yourself as a big fat zero in the relationship, nothing good will be the result.” End Quote

 

So, enjoy who you are.  Live courageously and righteously, constantly striving to make yourself a better person.

 

Do number three:

Do value your commitment.

Value your commitment to each other and value your commitment to your Heavenly Father.

 

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” we read:

 

 Quote “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children…

“The family is ordained of God.  Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan… Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” End quote.

 

          The seriousness and importance of marriage cannot be taken lightly.  The covenants made between a husband and wife in the Holy Temple are not only made between each other, but in front of God, angels and witnesses.  Faithfulness to these covenants will bring joy and happiness to a marriage that will be carried out in the eternities. 

 

Marriage, For Time and All Eternity

April 25, 2010

 

 

Natalie is a tough act to follow. And I am grateful for the topic that we have both been assigned and even more grateful for her ability and expertise in the areas that she covered, the dos and don’ts.  I have become very familiar with the “don’ts” in marriage and for that I have almost mastered one of the most important “dos”, saying I’m sorry. Perhaps even more impressive to my wife, I am learning that an apology is meant to show sorrow for an act or unkind word with intent to heal and repair. Not solely to halt her feelings and tears just to move on with the day or onto the next task at hand. I think Brother Jared Cluff said it well when he heard of our topics and said, “oh good, Brian you can speak on how to torment a wife for eternity and Natalie can speak on long suffering, ” Probably no to far from the truth.

 

As I was preparing to leave the Michigan Detroit mission in 2002, President Emery sat me down to give the much anticipated ‘marriage counsel talk’, aka exit interview. I had been looking forward to this moment with much anticipation for 2 long yrs. Finally I was going to get the green light on finding my wife as fast as I could. The interview started, and went on, and on, and on, and on….. not even the slights reference to marriage or girls or children or dating. I don’t remember what was said, I do however remember what was not said. GET MARRIED AS FAST AS YOU CAN…. My mission president was like a patriarch in the fact that each ‘end of mission’ interview was different and personalized. But wait, I really liked what he was saying to all the other elders; even the sisters were given the green light. But nothing mentioned to me.  Through much thought, I figured that president Emery must have known that I would be wise, take my time, date lots of worthy girls, and be married by 25. Well, 7 months from the day that President Emery and I had this heart felt interview, Natalie and I were married in the Oakland, CA temple by the authority of the Holy Priesthood.

 

Natalie mentioned us kneeling across the alter in the temple; what she didn’t mention was the emotional state we were in. There were some of the biggest puppy dog tears I have ever been witness to. Natalie was kneeling there and smiling. I was seeing a blurry beautiful bride through the most tears ever to leave these manly eyes. In preparation for our eternal marriage, I visited the Provo temple weekly during our long 4 month engagement to stay close to the spirit, to participate and learn what a temple sealing meant, and for the strength to keep myself in check during the 4 months that felt like eternity. When the day finally came for us to be sealed, my heart was filled with gratitude and appreciation for the ceremony which was about to take place, and for the beautiful girl that I was going to walk with into the eternities.

 

For those who have not yet be married or have not yet received their temple endowment and subsequently have not yet been sealed to their spouse, let me share some of the highlights of this important ordinance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints.  

 

“The sacred ceremony of temple marriage is conducted in reverence and simplicity, and the occasion is a beautiful and joyous one for LDS couples. The bride and the groom meet with family and friends in a designated sealing room of the temple. The officiator typically greets the couple with a few words of welcome, counsel, and fatherly commendations. He may admonish the couple to treat each other throughout life with the same love and kindness that they feel at this moment, and may add other words of encouragement, with his blessing upon their righteous undertaking. The couple is invited to come forward and kneel facing each other across an altar in the middle of the room. The sealer sometimes directs the attention of all present to the mirrors on opposite walls, reflecting endlessly the images of the couple at the altar, and he may comment on the symbolism. Then the sealer pronounces the simple words of the ceremony, which promise, on condition of obedience, lasting bonds with the potential for eternal joy between these two sealed for eternity. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Faithfulness to the marriage covenant brings the fullest joy here and glorious rewards hereafter” at the conclusion of the ceremony, the couple kiss over the altar and may then arise and leave the altar to exchange rings”. The principle of eternal marriage and the ordinances implementing it constitute a very distinctive and valuable part of the church. This is a sacred and simple ceremony to unite husband and wife in the bonds of everlasting love and in the hopes of eternity. The phrase “until death do you part” is regarded as a tragic one that predicts the ultimate dissolution of the marriage, and this phrase is not stated in the temple marriage ceremony.  (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

 

While across from each other in the temple, I was strongly admonished by our sealer who was also Natalie’s grandfather, to treat my bride like the princess and queen that she is now becoming in Gods kingdom. She was then directed in a similar manor to do likewise for the prince and king that she was marrying.  Natalie’s grandfather lived what he taught. In every way he treated his queen as such. 2 yrs ago this summer, Natalie’s grandmother pass away but prior to doing so, many witnessed grandpa saying good bye as she softly slipped into the eternities. I will not repeat what he said due to the sacredness of it, but the words were those of a king asking his queen to make ready a place for them in the Fathers Kingdom. With his reassurance that he will be with her soon once his mission here was complete.

 

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that “At the time of their temple sealing, both husband and wife enter “an order of the priesthood called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage”. If a husband and wife are faithful to their temple marriage, they will continue as co-creators’ in God’s celestial kingdom through the eternities.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

As was previously mentioned by wife sweet wife, a common phrase in her home growing up was to marry the right person, in the right place, at the right time. During the early days of our relationship, not many days after our first date, I was pondering my future with Natalie while in the temple. I knew that I would be married in the temple, and other then being completely broke and no where to live, the time seemed right, but was she the right person. I too had my lists growing up which included a temple worthy girl, with musical talent, and someone who would love and support me in church and career responsibilities. Natalie had all the qualities I was looking for, but, I realized that I wanted to marry a person and not a list. The list had pointed me in the right direction, but it couldn’t make the eternal decision for me. After much thought and prayer on the matter, I was directed to an experience I had while in the mission filed. It was a preparation day and we were fishing. For those of you who have visited our home and have seen the awesome missionary scrap book that Natalie put together, you know that I fished every chance I could get. This one particular day, we went to a local pond where we met with other elders. It was there that I had a very singular experience. My pole tugged and the fight began. 10 minutes later, I reeled in the largest fish I had ever caught let alone seen in person, a 36 inch 30lbs catfish. I was shocked and amazed with this catch. I had fished all my life, never catching anything even close to this. I continued to fish the rest of my mission even returning to that very spot many times to try to repeat the mammoth catch. But even to this day, including many trips to President Stuckie’s pond, never have I seen or caught anything close. In the temple that day, I realized that Natalie was my “catfish”. She was a once in a life time catch for me. Sure I had dated other girls and I could continue to date even more, but, the spirit helped me realize that for me, she was the best thing out there. She was the right person, at the right time, and we were married in the right place. And, still to this day she says she’s not a Catfish. I agree, but she was a good catch.

 

As Natalie and I near our 7th anniversary next month, and as many of you near your first, second, third, and fifty third anniversaries, I think it is important for us to maintain the idea of “the right person”. But once the temple ceremony is over, the interpretation changes from finding and marrying the right person, to being and becoming the right person for our spouse. This is a life long task…

 

Marion D. Hanks, an assistant to the twelve apostles said, “Married people should be best friends; no relationship on earth needs friendship as much as marriage… friendship in a marriage is so important.” End quote. 

 

So my question to each of us is, is our spouse our best friend? Perhaps a more important questions is, are we our spouses best friend? As men and husbands, are we occasionally unemotional and abrasive with our sweet hearts? Are we there for them when there are tears requiring only a listing ear? Or are we outsourcing the compassion and emotional support they sometimes needed. And wives, do you entertain your husbands ranting about the new computer software, or the exciting game he just watched, willing to put up with a scruffy face for a few moments of alone time?

See the secret to a successful marriage is becoming the right person by becoming your spouse’s best friend. True friendship in love is centered in service, forgiveness, and faith. It is sensitive to the others unique love language. The way that I feel love from my wife verses the way that I express love to my wife are often in two different forms. She has learned what it takes to make me feel loved and I am striving to do the same for her. Although at times I think I am aiming at a moving target. Which of course will require a better aim on my part and patients on hers.  But it is in the discovering of your spouses love languages, the ability to create the feeling of love in your spouse the way they enjoy being loved; that creates and eternal relationship based in service and care for the other.

 

When a man and woman who have been sealed together in a temple are united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, taking full responsibility for nurturing each other, they are truly married.

 

For those of you who know me, I spend many hours smoking different meets and then basking in the complements of those enjoying my creations. Stealing a line from my best friend who is a cheese man, I have found a new cheese,” or in my case, I have found a new meet to smoke…  It is my lovely wife, my best friend and companion. She is “my” everything. I am excited to finish my schooling so that I might spend more time with her. She is the sole key to my happiness and she accepts that and embraces that. For which I Love her deeply and eternally.

 

We are sad to be moving but excited for the journey we will be taking.

 

 

 


5 comments:

Pam said...

Brian, I have never met you, but I grew up with your sweet wife, and I must say... this post is so fantastic. I absolutely needed this today (mostly because my three kids kept me from hearing my own sacrament meeting). Thank you for sharing these talks. They are both so very fantastic, and exactly what I needed to hear in this stage of my marriage. (Nearly 10 years, and 3 kids- one of which is a newborn with severe allergies, that require a lot of my time and attention)

Thank you again, and give Natalie a hug for me!

Eric and Jewels said...

Impressive Talks!! I appreciate you guys sharing these. There were alot of good points made that I needed to hear. Love you guys!!

Sharee and Arthur said...

Great talks, guys! Arthur saw that I have that book by Merilee Boyack, and was like, "what the?" So I had to tell him, it's not what it looks like. It's more about how the wife can improve . . . anyway, besides the point, but good job on your talks. :) love you guys.

Windy Dougall said...

such beautiful talks you two gave! congrats on Brian's graduation and best wishes for your new adventures!

Heather Mills said...

Natalie, before you left I never got the chance to tell you how much your talk in church affected me. You said all the things that I needed to hear. It was an amazing talk that really opened my eyes to many things I needed to improve on. You presented it perfectly by sticking to the doctrine and telling real, true to life stories as well. I felt the spirit so strongly as you spoke and I am so glad that you guys have posted these talks on your blog. I enjoyed rereading them and feeling that strong spirit once again. Brian, your talk was awesome as well and I thank you two for sharing them. We miss you guys and wish you the best! Let us know how you like the Navy as we will be following you soon!